Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The best dreams I ever had

When I leave a place, pack up what I can and toss the rest, give it away, sell off some, let it go and shake my head; when all that I had and all that I did is on its way out in place of going; when I close the door and turn to the future unknowable, fraught with killing pains and terrifying dangers and, one hopes, grand epiphanies and deep loves; I turn inward as I leave it all, closing off the lost and opening up the joy of what I think of as freedom to stuff yet more learning about this world and our lives into this life of my own. Another tie to humanity is cut, though, and I wander among people who belong somewhere, have meaningful lives with the familiar and the known and the accepted. Leaving is a kind of suicide. I'm letting go of this life in Canada relatively soon. It'll be over for me. There is much to regret in the loss. People die. We lose them. I lose them. I leave.

When I was younger my friends often expressed some hostility toward me leaving. They sometimes say, more often just wonder openly without asking, "Why are you leaving this place where we live and have our good lives? Is there something wrong? Something wrong with me? Am I missing something I should have that you are going to find that I won't?"

I say good-bye easily. I have deep attachments to some people, and yet that depth is not so deep that I don't yank myself up and say good-bye anyway. I watch old movies, and all those people have had their lives, and they are dead now. Silly of me, I say good-bye to them when the movie ends. All the old people I knew as a kid, they're all dead, too. Good-bye.

This voluntary giving up of life is suicidal in its way; it's also living a new life in another realm, as it were. It ends. It's a mad world. I'll probably miss it when I leave it for good. But not yet, I think.

A friend is dying, maybe only weeks, could be months. We all go sometime. I'm going sometime too, though to a different place, I think. I give up what I have here for something else elsewhere. I've never been anywhere that I didn't like. I smile at the thought of leaving, and I smile at the thought of arriving.

I think I can maintain this blog when I go. I'll retain some of you as friends in this aethereal space, being no different man there than I am here, and you being as god-like in authorial voice as always. I hope you'll join me in my travels, wherever that might take me. We'll see in a few months or so. I have people to say good-bye to, childish things to put away, plans to make. I'll take a few things with me. I sit, will sit, too, in some place, a supplicant at the Gates of Mystery, wondering what this is all about, why I couldn't have stayed home. I'll leave this place. I'll leave this girl. I'll remember.

I remember, at the edge of the tomb, the milling of the quick, her shy, sly grin as she glanced, "Is it me?"

Old, old, old. She was old. Her neck had slid down her collar and her eyes had sunken into sockets, her lips shrivelled, her hair stiff and yellowed. She was beauty in the cold sunlight on the brown grass. "And I remember 30 years ago when you said...." Her eyes shone. I remembered 30 years before, and I saw her then. I saw her in her aged beauty. My old hand on her old cheek.

Be near me when my light is low,
When the blood creeps, and the nerves prick
And tingle; and the heart is sick,
And all the wheels of Being slow.

Be near me when the sensuous frame
Is rack'd with pangs that conquer trust;
And Time, a maniac scattering dust,
And Life, a Fury slinging flame.

Alfred Lord Tennyson, "In Memoriam A.H.H.," Section 50.

To look at an old lady and see the smiling girl inside. To know the life of a girl. That life ends, and that we cannot help it. Everything passes; beautiful girls age and sicken and leave us helpless in regret. To look at a girl and see a whole life coming to an end among the roses. To know the gods have no pity on the sick. Life is very long if we count by the departed. It keeps getting longer the more often I depart.

My friend, be near me when my light is low.

Hello, J., I must leave.

1 comment:

Dag said...

Died 3 September 2010.

My regrets.